- Christopher Klemek
Jacobs, Jane (04 May 1916–25 April 2006), writer, community organizer, and urban advocate, was born Jane Butzner in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Dr. John Butzner, a physician, and Bess Robison, a nurse. She was raised with three siblings in nearby Dunmore, a middle-class suburb. Dr. Butzner, among the first in the city to own an automobile, took his daughter along on rides downtown, where she was captivated by the spectacle of urban life. As a teenager, she also spent summer months working at her aunt’s Presbyterian charity for impoverished Appalachian communities in rural North Carolina. A key influence was her great-aunt Hannah Breece, who, beginning at age forty-five in 1904, spent fourteen years traversing the Alaska territory as a schoolteacher for indigenous pupils. Likewise Jane Jacobs would assume the posture of urban political activist and critic only after age forty, and at seventy-six, she would retrace the trans-Alaskan journey of her familial role model and edit Breece’s memoir, published in 1996....